Red Coral Analysis

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In addition to actual branching coral displayed by the elite in their palaces, branching motifs were placed on imperial and courtly robes, as part of the babao pingshui, ‘eight treasures and smooth water’ hem border. These representational branches were woven or embroidered alongside the earth mountain and other auspicious motifs - pearls, rhino horns, rhombus. Higher up on imperial robes, five-clawed dragons chase the flaming pearl of enlightenment, the flames indicating mythical status. On certain exceptional garments, such as this late-Qing robe, dating to the Tongzhi period (1862 - 1874) in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (fig. 2), the flames - which are visually similar to the branching coral motif - are ornamented with actual tiny…show more content…
As we have seen, Chinese material culture in the late imperial period was profoundly influenced by ancient concepts and ideas, many of which had lost their original understanding; nonetheless, a basic concept or visual form endured through time, even when the original significance may be long…show more content…
For example, it is known that jade is particularly valued for properties that evoke both stone and water and its somewhat contradictory tendency to vary between opacity and translucency. Jade is extremely durable (6 - 7 on the Mohs scale) and requires abrasion, rather than carving, to shape it. When polished, jade has vitreous waxy or greasy, quality that is smooth and glassy to the touch; one of its most cherished properties is its natural coolness, as it is a relatively poor conductor of heat. Jade was ascribed quasi-moral qualities. For example, according to the Eastern Han scholar, Xu Shen (AD 58 - 148), in the Shuo-wen (The Discussion of Pictographs and Analysis of Characters): Jade as a stone has five virtues. Its glossiness and warmth is like benevolence. Because inside and outside is the same, so that knowing the outside one knows the inside, this may be likened to righteousness. Its far reaching sound (when struck) may be heard from afar, like wisdom. It is not easily bent but can be broken, which may be likened to courage. Jade may be sharpened, but not to a point when it can injure people; this quality is like self-regulation or

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